Cuba loses dissident poet to days of historical manifestation – Sylvia Colombo

It was with apprehension and hope that the poet and journalist Raúl Rivero had been following the events in Cuba, which is on the eve of a new anti-regime demonstration, called for the next 15th. Despite living in exile in Miami, the writer was in contact with the militants on the island and placed expectations on the renewal of the team of opponents of the dictatorship.

A heart attack prevented him from seeing this story unfold. Last Saturday (6), Rivero died, at 75, without seeing the end of a regime for which, at the beginning, he fought and defended, later becoming an opponent who was persecuted by him. Like writer Cabrera Infante, singer Celia Cruz and hundreds of others, Rivero ended his days in exile.

Poet and journalist, Rivero was part of a group known as “the 75”, a group of dissidents that the repression arrested in a three-day operation in March 2003 and became known as “Black Spring”. Convicted, the sentences for this group ranged from 8 to 30 years, and there were strong rumors at the time that the death penalty would also be applied, which ended up not coming true.

Rivero was sentenced to 20 years in prison. But the following year, after a strong international campaign, with the support of intellectuals from other countries, such as the Peruvian Vargas Llosa and the Chilean Jorge Edwards, the poet was released on the condition that he leave the country. First, he went to Spain, which offered him nationality. In recent years, I lived and worked in Miami.

Before becoming frustrated with the Revolution, Rivero became part of an armed group that fought the anti-Castro people. Later, he worked in vehicles aligned with the regime, such as Prensa Latina, for which he was correspondent in Moscow between 1973 and 1976 and sent to various countries in then Eastern Europe and North Korea. He was also one of the founders of the magazine El Caimán Barbudo, one of the pioneers of non-fiction narrative in Latin America, in which Leonardo Padura also participated.

In 1991, troubled by censorship and the existence of political prisoners, Rivero signed the famous “Carta de los Diez”, which brought together famous names calling for the island’s redemocratization. He started to do opposition journalism, starting from the agency he created, Cuba Press.

In exile, he came closer to poetry. He is the author of more than 15 books, including “Estudios de La Naturaleza”, “Sin Pan y Sin Palabras”, “Herejías” and “Contact Tests”, released in Brazil (Barcarola). He won several literary awards, such as Ortega y Gasset.

For the past few days, he and his wife, Blanca Reyes, one of the leaders of another splinter group, the Damas de Blanco, have had their attention focused on what could happen on the island next week.

His death marks a generational change for those calling for freedom and democracy on the island.

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